Hallelujah, It's Summer!
by Brian Finnegan
Ah, the joys of summer. School is out (non-COVID years) and it’s time to relax and enjoy life as it should be. Summers are filled with trips to the beach, lake, mountains, etc. We all need time off from our hectic schedules to get some rest and relaxation. Fun times!
But alas, the fun and sun is short lived and sooner than desired, the one or two week vacation is over and the return to the daily grind begins again. Wouldn’t it be great if we could live our lives in a continuous state of rest? Guess what, for those in Christ we can and should.
Because our lives are so hectic and busy with worldly things, we think of rest as a time to take a break from the “real” world and enjoy a more leisurely time focused purely on our enjoyment and amusement. Jesus however has a much different thought about true rest. In the gospel of Matthew, Jesus says “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:28–30).
We all like the first part of that passage because we can all relate to “all who labor and are heavy laden” and oh, how we yearn for “rest”. But then Jesus starts talking about “yokes and learning and burdens”. That’s not my idea of rest. No, I just want to kick back and rest.
What we need to understand is the restfulness Jesus is offering is not inactive. It is a way of active living, of doing life, of serving — all with deep restfulness of soul and, I think, sweet restfulness of body when the day’s doing is over. As the prophet Jeremiah said, “Stand by the roads, and look, and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way is; and walk in it, and find rest for your souls” (Jeremiah 6:16). It is rest in walking and not rest from walking
We need to remember Jesus was speaking to Jews who were “yoked and burdened” by over 600 Mosaic laws and additional requirements from the Pharisees and Sadducees. So, what makes Jesus’ yoke easy and His burden light? It’s that righteousness is no longer established by rules and regulations but provided by the death and resurrection of Christ. We have been saved by the precious blood of Jesus are to live a life glorifying to Him.
As Paul tells us in Philippians, “…work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.” In other words, Jesus has lifted the heaviest load of guilt and sin by dying for us. He has also lifted and goes on lifting the daily load of working out our salvation by being the decisive worker in our lives. He does it by the Spirit, the Spirit of Christ, within us.
So, if we want true, refreshing and lasting rest, let’s examine our lives and get rid of the worldly things that are draining us and start living every day for Jesus’ honor and glory. We need to live our lives as Jesus outlines in Matthew 22, “And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Notice, unlike the world teaches, there is nothing in these two commandments about the importance of “me”. As Jesus said in the gospel of Mark, “For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve…”. We must ask ourselves, is our life a life of serving God and others or are we so busy serving ourselves and our need to be successful as the world defines success, that we are constantly burned out and in need of worldly rest. I believe the only way to true and continuous rest is putting on Jesus’ yoke and living our lives every minute of every day in such a way that He will be glorified.
Who knows, we may start proclaiming “Hallelujah, What A Savior!” instead of “Hallelujah, It’s Summer!”